A small group of sailors from Landing Helicopter Dock NUSHIP Adelaide had the chance to try out their acting skills this month when sister ship, HMAS Canberra conducted Non-Combatant Evacuation Operation and Evacuation Handling Centre exercises.
A non-combatant evacuation is conducted in support of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade whereby Australian nationals and approved foreign nationals are evacuated from countries when their lives are endangered by war, civil unrest or natural disaster.
The Landing Helicopter Docks are the largest ships ever built for the Navy and were designed for this type of operation. Canberra and Adelaide will be able to conduct a range of roles including large scale amphibious operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.
Canberra’s Deputy Amphibious Operations Officer, Captain Josh Wilson said the ship’s first exercise went well.
“We had personnel from NUSHIP Adelaide play the part of evacuees,” he said.
“They were very good and took up their roles with a lot of professionalism providing a very realistic training scenario.
“Canberra’s ship’s company came together to create a good example of what we need to do.”
During an evacuation, Canberra will deploy its landing craft to embark evacuees from a predetermined point ashore. Evacuees will then be transported to the Landing Helicopter Dock where they will be processed through an Evacuation Handling Centre by the ship’s staff. They will be accounted for, treated for any injuries or illnesses and assigned temporary accommodation onboard the ship.
Captain Wilson said there were some lessons learnt from the exercise that will be implemented before the ship is evaluated for Unit Readiness.
“Once the ship is Unit Ready it is quite likely we would be called upon to conduct one of these activities,” he said.
“As we have seen in recent years, the South East Asian region can experience quite a few natural disasters such as tsunamis and earthquakes.
“HMAS Canberra would respond to a situation like this where we have Australian nationals that need to be evacuated before further disasters hit.
“Also once we have the evacuees on the ship we could be dealing with many cases of distress, illness or injury and most evacuees would be uncertain, anxious and concerned about their future,” he said.
Canberra will soon complete her First of Class Flight Trials and return to her home port of Sydney for a short period of respite. In the second half of May, she will commence a work up period that extends across all her capabilities in order to achieve Unit Readiness later this year.